By the numbers
June 16, 2009


Bra size is more than just a number to some women - it's central to their identity, something they cling to no matter how their bodies change.

"It's the one thing they don't want to let go," said Michele Robison Eyer, sales manager at Lane Bryant in the Logan Valley Mall. "Over the years, they just cram them in."

Experts say 80 percent of women are wearing the wrong size bra, and that's about what Eyer sees in her customers, as does Bev Snowberger, a certified bra fit specialist with J.C. Penney Co. in the Logan Valley Mall.

Vanity aside, wearing the wrong size bra can cause health problems, said Dr. Wendy Pehonsky, chiropractor with American Family Chiropractic in Hollidaysburg.

"When a bra is not fit properly and it's pulling on the shoulder, you'll have numbness and tingling in the neck, shoulders and mid-back," Pehonsky said. "I see it in about 60 percent of female patients. It's not the sole reason (for back pain), but it is a contributing factor."

Both Snowberger and Eyer recommend women get a professional fitting every six months. Different stores have different fitting methods, but generally, once the fitter has measured for the band size, she'll measure around the fullest part of the bust.

A difference of 1 inch is an A cup; a difference of 2 inches is a B cup, and so on.

Some women still resist when they're told their actual size, Eyer said, but they usually change their mind once they're in the bra.

"They're shocked to see how much better a good-fitting bra makes them feel," Eyer said.

Bra fittings usually take half an hour or 45 minutes but can last up to an hour, Snowberger said.

"Every bra fits a little differently," Snowberger said. "Some bras are made for fuller-figured women, and some are cut differently."

Once you do find the right bra for you, experts have the following tips:

- Buy a wardrobe of bras. A woman should have different styles to accommodate the different looks in her closet, like a strapless bra and everyday bras that provide coverage under a T-shirt, said Ellie Fisher, certified bra fit specialist and women's accessories supervisor at Penney's.

"You should have enough bras that you don't have to reuse the same one for 72 hours," Fisher said. "A bra goes under a lot of stress - you have it on for 12 hours."

- Take care of your bras.

"We tell women they should be handwashed and never put in the dryer," Fisher said. "They do have laundry bags you can get and wash them on the delicate cycle."

- Replace your bras regularly. Most have a one-year life span, or even less, if you wear it frequently.

"You can't wear a bra for three years and expect it to hold up," Eyer said.

- Expect some changes when you're expecting. Pregnant women should come in within a few weeks of their due date to be fitted for a nursing bra, Snowberger said.

- Lastly, enjoy the bra-fitting experience.

It can be fun, Snowberger said, and most women really appreciate the results.

"You feel pretty all over when you're pretty underneath," she said.

Mirror Staff Writer Ashley Gurbal is at 946-7435.


Regular Size Staging v2